Much Needed Update
It has been a long time since I updated my news page, and much has happened. It has been a fantastic season of grass growth, with many farmers having record grass growth. Grass quality has also remained high throughout the season, which brings me on to my first topic – grass quality. I have been regularly grass sampling a number of farms this year and the one thing that is striking is the huge difference in quality between the old swards and the new swards, on a number of farms the old swards have never risen above 10.5ME, whereas the newer swards have never dipped below 11.5ME, when you factor in a 30% increase in growth as well, it really shows the potential benefits that re-seeding can offer on old poor performing fields.
Talking of poor performing fields, my 22 acres (9Ha) have been pretty much a disaster!!! I only took them on last Sept and I wanted to see what they would grow in their first season, the answer was not very much!!! In figures they ranged from 3.6T/DM/HA to a massive 5.4T/DM/Ha in a year of fantastic growth. You have to realise that the “new ley” was put down in 1988 and the old ley in 1957!!! They were stocked at 6 ewes/Ha and 8 lambs/Ha with no fertiliser. Not surprisingly the lamb performance has been poor, they were growing reasonably well whilst on the ewe, but since weaning they have been a disaster.
Next year I will be re-seeding the two poorest fields and it will be interesting to see the increase in field performance and lamb performance.
It was interesting last week to have the pleasure of spending time with some of the Teagasc Moorepark researchers, and it was very interesting to listen about all the grassland trial work going on at the moment. It ranges from the effect of different closing dates in the Autumn on Spring grass supplies, to clover trials, the effects of on/off grazing on cow performance and the new grass seed index. In short you cannot make up for a late closing date in Autumn by delaying turnout in the Spring. In the first year of the clover trials, the fields with clover have grown nearly 2T/DM/Ha more than the fields with no clover. During periods of 3 hrs on/off grazing the cows were eating for 99% of their time and their intakes were almost as high as cows at pasture all day, and there was no significant impact on cow performance. The new grass seed index ranks grass varieties on an economic index, with various sub indexes for growth characteristics.
As well as grazing we had a top geneticist and he was talking all about the EBI index, the Genomic breeding programme and the next generation herd. Basically the EBI index is going from strength to strength, and is constantly evolving to take into account changes within the industry and advancements within the science of breeding. The genomic selection of bulls is proving to be very reliable, with genomic predictions being far superior to traditional parent average predictions, if anything judging by the data the genomics is under estimating the breeding values. The next generation herd is a herd set up at Moorepark, which is made up of one group of heifers in the top 3% of EBI and the second group made up of heifers which are national average for EBI. Both groups are treated the same and so far the high EBI group are comfortably out performing the average group, and the one area they are hugely superior in is fertility, this year after 12 weeks of serving 95% of the high EBI cows were in calf as opposed to 78% of the average EBI cows.
All of this just makes me even more convinced that joining forces with the National Cattle Breeding Centre (NCBC) in Ireland, to start up Ireland Genetics UK may be one of my better decisions!!! If anyone is interested in any High EBI bulls please get in touch.